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Behind Bars in Brazil

VIII. Abuses by Guards and Police



From the moment of arrest until their release from prison, Brazilian inmates face chronic and sometimes extreme official violence. In the immediate aftermath of prison riots, in particular, inmates frequently suffer appalling physical abuse. Poorly remunerated and lacking appropriate training, prison guards are often quick to resort to physical beatings in lieu of the authorized punishments listed in the national prison law. Still, the most egregious instances of brutality-including summary executions of prisoners-are committed by civil and military police rather than guards. The 1992 Carandiru massacre, one of the bloodiest episodes in Brazilian history, was committed by members of the military police; so were last year's slaughter of eight prisoners in João Pessoa, Paraíba, the December 1997 killings of seven escaped prisoners near Fortaleza, Ceará, and the February 1998 killings of at least six escaped prisoners in Natal, Rio Grande do Norte. Given that the record of many states' civil and military police in conducting their regular policing duties is severely blemished by brutality, corruption, and related abuses,219 it is not surprising that their history of dealing with inmates is similarly flawed.

As with human rights violations generally, what most encourages these acts of violence is the persistent impunity that prevails for officials guilty of them. At every stage of the criminal process-from investigation to prosecution to judgment to appeal-the scales are heavily weighted in favor of the perpetrator of abuse. Indeed, very few incidents of physical abuse of prisoners, including even the most egregious cases of torture, are ever investigated. The unpopularity and political powerlessness of the inmate population means that few people care if abuses against prisoners go unpunished.

Prison Personnel

Recognizing the important responsibilities entrusted prison guards-who must prevent escapes and maintain order in the prisons while ensuring the safety and welfare of all inmates-the Standard Minimum Rules contain a number of provisions mandating that guards be carefully selected, appropriately trained, and adequately remunerated. They note, in explaining these concerns, that the proper functioning of the prisons depends on guards' "integrity, humanity, professional capacity and personal suitability for [prison] work."220

Structure of responsibilities

In most states, civilian guards who are hired and trained by the justice secretariat staff the prisons, while civil police officers staff the police lockups. In other words, once an inmate is transferred to the prison system, he should be out of police hands.

Nonetheless, state military police-which are subject to civilian control and whose name is thus something of misnomer-do play a role in the prisons.221 The principal responsibility of the military police is to ensure the prisons' external security by standing watch in towers and other structures that ring the prisons. They are also commonly called upon to assist prison staff in quelling riots, preventing escapes, and handling other prison disturbances.

In certain states, moreover, the police are formally employed within the prisons. The most extreme example of police control of the prison system is that of Rio Grande do Norte, a small northeastern state with a relatively small inmate population. When we visited the state in December 1997, the prisons were entirely under the administration of the military police. A spokesman from the Secretariat of the Interior, Justice, and Citizenship, which runs the prison system, said that the state had never in its history employed a civilian corps of prison staff, although it was planning to hire some soon.222

Rio Grande do Sul, Brazil's southernmost state, has given over control of five of its prisons-the five most unmanageable facilities-to the state military police. After several years of continuing disturbances, culminating in a dramatic hostage crisis and the escape of a number of notorious inmates, the military police were authorized to take over the prisons on July 25, 1995. The authorization was limited to a six-month period, but it has been extended every time it was due to expire. When Human Rights Watch visited, the military police were confident that their mandate would be extended in this way indefinitely; indeed, they appeared to have settled very comfortably into their functions as prison administrators.

While most observers, and even some prisoners, agreed that the military police in Rio Grande do Sul have been an improvement over the corrupt and abusive civilian guards they replaced, their presence in the prisons is said to violate a state constitutional provision that limits their prison responsibilities to providing external security. When questioned on this, the head of the Força Tarefa (military prison force) responded simply, "We don't get involved in constitutional questions," although he did agree that their prison duties were unusual.

In Ceará, another state visited by Human Rights Watch, military police have been placed in charge of maintaining the internal security of the state's prisons. Still, we have insufficient information to conclude that Brazil is witnessing the systematic "militarization" of its prisons, as has occurred in other Latin American countries.223 We are nonetheless concerned about the degree of military police control over the prison system, which violates international norms mandating that prisons be guarded by a professional corps of civilian staff.224

Lack of training

The national prison law mandates that guards receive both initial and refresher training courses.225 Nonetheless, a lack of adequate training severely handicaps guards in Brazilian prisons, leaving many of them ill-equipped tomanage their custodial duties. The military police officers working in several Rio Grande do Sul prisons, for example, receive only five days' training before being assigned to a job within the prison.226

Guards in Minas Gerais complained loudly of the absence of training during interviews with Human Rights Watch. Their training course, when one is given, consists of a week of classroom lectures held within one of the prisons. The state has no training academy, nor are refresher training courses available for guards who are already working.227

In São Paulo, the state with the largest corps of prison guards, the head of the prison guards' union told Human Rights Watch that "the training provided us has never been adequate."228 Unlike some states, São Paulo does have a Penitentiary Academy charged with guard training, yet the subjects taught there are limited. The union head noted that during their forty-day training course, guards receive substantial training in police skills, but little information regarding the humane treatment of prisoners.

Low salaries

Guard salaries vary greatly from state to state, but they tend to be low, and in some states they are minuscule. Several states, moreover, supplement their regular custodial staff with contract employees, generally on renewable six-month contracts; these guards receive lower pay, little or no training, and few benefits.

Higher-paid guards are found in Brasília, where guards make approximately 1,700 reais per month (approximately U.S. $1,513), and Amazonas, where guards make between 1,000 and 1,500 reais (from $890 to $1,335) per month.229 New guards in São Paulo start at 711 to 785 reais (approximately $633to $699) per month. In Minas Gerais, until June 1997, guards earned 220 reais (approximately $196) per month; then, after a strike, their salaries rose to 463 reais (approximately $421) per month.230 Jailers in São Paulo police lockups usually earn between 300 and 400 reais (approximately $267 to $356) per month.

In Paraíba, only a fraction of the guard staff has job tenure, receiving a standard salary of 400 reais (approximately $356) per month; most guards work on six-month contracts for 120 reais (approximately $107) per month. Guards in that state told us that even tenured employees frequently work a second job in order to make ends meet.231

Such low salaries contravene the Standard Minimum Rules, which require that prison staff be rewarded with salaries that are "adequate to attract and retain suitable men and women."232 Not only do miserably low salaries fail to attract qualified staff, they encourage corruption.

Authorized Punishments:
Warnings, Restrictions, and Isolation

The national prison law enumerates the punishments for disciplinary infractions committed by inmates, mandating, in order of ascending severity, verbal warnings, written warnings, restriction or suspension of certain rights (such as visits), and a maximum of thirty days' disciplinary isolation. It also specifically bars other punishments: in particular, collective punishments, the use of a dark cell, and punishments that endanger the prisoner's physical or mental health.233

As will be described below, Human Rights Watch found that the legal prohibition on collective punishments is routinely violated in Brazil's penal facilities and that the punishments inflicted very commonly involve physical abuse. We also discovered several punishment cells used for disciplinary isolation that,while not pitch black, were very dimly lit or dark most of the time.234 We did note that the thirty-day time limit on disciplinary isolation was customarily observed.

As is typical in all prisons, punishment cells tended to have much worse conditions than normal cells.235 The Natal prison, in Rio Grande do Norte, had one of the worst punishment areas Human Rights Watch visited. Called the cafua (dungeon), it consisted of four cells, three of which measured roughly six feet by eleven feet, and a larger one of roughly ten feet by seventeen feet. None of the three smaller cells had direct access to natural light, nor did they have any sanitary facilities. Prisoners told Human Rights Watch that those sent to the cafua regularly spent thirty uninterrupted days in the punishment cells and were thus forced to defecate on the floor of their cells or in plastic bags which they later tossed through the cell's iron gate. One prisoner spoke of being held in one of the smaller cells with nine other people.

During our December 1997 visit to the Natal prison, we were told that the cafua had been shut down fifteen days earlier. Several prisoners with whom we spoke, however, told us that they had been held in the cafua and released only a few days before our December visit. After an October escape attempt, more than fifty prisoners were crammed into the larger punishment cell. "We spent three days nose to nose," one inmate told us. "No one could sleep."236 On our February 1998 return trip to the prison, several inmates told us that the cafua continued to be used, although more sporadically than before.

Unauthorized Punishments:
Summary Executions, Torture, and Other Physical Abuse

Particularly in the wake of riots, escape attempts, and other serious incidents-but sometimes even for trivial offenses-prison guards and police disregard the strictures of the national prison law and resort to physical violence. The following is a state-by-state description of recent incidents of violent physical abuse in Brazil's prisons and police lockups, the most serious of which involve summary executions of inmates.237


Until mid-1997, the Raimundo Vidal Pessoa Penitentiary in Manaus, Amazonas-the state's main prison-was the site of rampant official violence. Prisoners described how the prison warden, a member of the military police, personally oversaw beatings of prisoners, sometimes even taking part himself, as well as how drunken guards would hit prisoners on any pretext. Military shock troops used to enter the prison on a regular basis, beating inmates and breaking things. The situation began to change with the establishment of a new Secretariat of Justice in March 1997. To the surprise of everyone, when three prisoners were brutally beaten by military shock troops in July 1997 the new justice secretary visited the prison and apologized to prisoners in the name of the state government.238 He also sought the prosecution of members of the military garrison that did the beatings.

That same month, after a prison riot during which innumerable reports of physical abuse were aired, the warden was dismissed along with a few of his top deputies.239 In December 1997 when Human Rights Watch visited the facility, inmates had many complaints to discuss, but physical abuse by guards and police was not one of them. In our investigation, this was practically the only men's prison where the issue was not raised.


The results of the police operation were exceptional.

-Gen. Cândido Vargas Freire, secretary of public security, describing the police response to an attempted jailbreak near Fortaleza, Ceará, in December 1997, in which seven escaping prisoners were killed and three hostages were injured, two by police gunfire.240

Labeled "Bloody Christmas" by the press,241 the police response to the attempted escape of twenty-three prisoners from the Instituto Penal Paulo Sarasate (IPPS) near Fortaleza, on December 25, 1997 involved the excessive use of deadly force and at least two summary executions. Despite this, police authorities minimized the gravity of the incident and, as of this writing, prosecutors have failed to conclude the investigation that might lead to charges against police who committed abuses during the operation.

On December 24, 1997, three prisoners' rights advocates-Eunísia Barroso, coordinator of the Prison Ministry of the Archdiocese of Fortaleza; Maria Nilva Alves, president of the Maria Nilva Foundation; and Eder Gil Teixeira Pinheiro, vice-president of the Maria Nilva Foundation-arrived at the IPPS to offer Christmas donations to the prisoners confined there.242 While the visitors were attending a capoeira demonstration in their honor,243 twenty-three prisoners stormed the room where the performance was being held and forcibly seized the three advocates and the IPPS chief of internal security, Lt. Francisco Tomaz de Aquino. Wielding two revolvers and various homemade knives, the inmates led the four hostages into the prison's schoolroom. During an exchange of fire with prison guards, one or more shots fired by authorities struck Francisco Sérgio Dias Ferreira-the prisoner believed to have been the leader of the attack-in the head,killing him instantly.244 With the four hostages effectively under their control, the remaining prisoners initiated a series of negotiations with prison officials, using Alves's cellular phone.245

The negotiations between the prisoners and the police (which were to ultimately last for more than twenty-five hours) were a trying experience for the hostages. Although prison officials announced to the press that they had delivered ample rations of water, food, and bedding to the hostages, both Teixeira Pinheiro and Barroso told Human Rights Watch that their pleas for food and water were repeatedly disregarded by prison officials and that it was only after some seventeen hours of captivity that they were finally given a two-liter bottle of water to share among twenty-three people. As Barroso-a sixty-seven-year-old diabetic-told us, the health effects of the denial of food and water were severe: "For me, the lack of water was horrible. I could feel my kidneys and my blood hardening. To keep me from passing out from the heat, the prisoners had to wet my lips with the sweat from their shirts."246

In an attempt to secure food and water, some of the prisoners sought access to the administration building of the prison. Teixeira Pinheiro and Barroso told Human Rights Watch that as the prisoners approached the front door of the administration building, military police fired upon them from overhead decks,wounding prisoner Francisco Kelly Costa.247 Secretary of Justice Paulo Duarte told Human Rights Watch that military police opened fire because they believed Kelly was armed and attempting to storm the building.248

Because police removed members of the press from the compound during the incident and did not allow either relatives of the hostages or representatives of local NGOs to participate in the negotiations, it is difficult to ascertain who led the negotiations for the police. Varying press accounts report that Police Precinct Chief (Delegado de Investigações e Capturas) Luis Carlos Dantas, IPPS Director Col. Henrique Amaral Brasileiro Neto, Col. Adaílton Magalhães of the Fortaleza Military Police Command (Comando de Policiamento da Capital), and State Secretary of Justice Paulo Duarte were among the principal negotiators. Regardless of who directed the talks, police officials appeared to place priority on the release of Lieutenant Tomaz-who, as a law enforcement official, should have been the last hostage to have been rescued by police. As Colonel Magalhães told members of the press during the negotiations: "We are giving preference to the initial rescue of the lieutenant, because we think that the women-Maria Nilva and Eunísia Barroso-have greater emotional control over the situation. They have already been able to speak with the prisoners and calm them down."249 In an interview with Human Rights Watch, Eunísia Barroso's son Tramaturgo Barroso, who was waiting outside of the prison during the negotiations, stated that he heard a prison guard make a similar, albeit more frankly stated, comment: "After the lieutenant is free, screw the others."250

At approximately 10:00 a.m. on the following day, December 25, the prisoners and the police reached an agreement. In their accord with the detainees, the police agreed that in exchange for the release of Lieutenant Tomaz and the prisoners' pledge to leave the compound by day rather than by night, they would provide the prisoners with four cars, eight .38 caliber revolvers, two boxes of ammunition, bed sheets (to conceal the prisoners and hostages while they left theschoolroom for the cars), newspapers (to conceal the prisoners and hostages in the cars), masking tape, and a guarantee not to pursue the fugitives for at least one-half hour after their exit from the facility. In the meantime, police began to assemble troops-including more than 150 officers from the military, federal, and civil police-around the prison and mounted a series of road obstructions-including a military police bus, trucks from the federal highway police, and a local fire truck-along highway BR-116 to help frustrate the prisoners' flight.251

At approximately 3:00 p.m., the prisoners and the hostages, concealed in the sheets that the police had provided, left the schoolroom and headed for the cars waiting for them in the prison yard. Before leaving the compound, the prisoners-pursuant to their agreement with the police-released Lieutenant Tomaz. After covering the windows of the four cars with newspaper (except for an approximately fifteen-by-twenty-inch gap in the windshield through which the drivers could see), twenty prisoners and the three remaining hostages departed the compound in the newly acquired vehicles. Surviving prisoners and hostages told Human Rights Watch that there were six prisoners and one hostage (Teixeira Pinheiro) in the first car, five prisoners and no hostage in the second car, five prisoners and one hostage (Alves) in the third car, and four prisoners and one hostage (Barroso) in the fourth car. During the escape, members of the second car seized a fourth hostage, Waldir Bezerra Alencar, at a roadside gas station.

As the fourth car was leaving the facility, the police immediately gave chase to the escapees, using a convoy of cars that had been previously stationed at the front gate. The police pursued the fleeing cars at speeds approaching one hundred miles per hour and shot at the four vehicles, despite the fact that hostages were being held in each of the cars. Police maintain that the pursuit was marked by a constant exchange of gunfire between the prisoners and the police. In contrast, surviving hostages Teixeira Pinheiro and Barroso told Human Rights Watch that none of the prisoners in either of their two vehicles fired at the police. No police suffered gunshot wounds as a result of the chase.252

Approximately ten minutes into the chase, the first of the four cars swerved and hit a tree, killing one prisoner and injuring hostage Teixeira Pinheiro,who suffered severe damage to his legs, neck, thorax, and spine. A surviving escapee from the first car told Human Rights Watch that immediately after the accident occurred, a hooded police officer fired at him several times from a distance of about twenty feet, wounding him twice in the arm. According to the prisoner, the hooded officer then approached him, pointed the gun at his head, and cocked the trigger but was warned by a fellow officer not to shoot because the press and Police Chief Dantas were coming.253

Survivors allege that police sabotaged at least two of the cars before giving them to the prisoners and flattened the tires of the third car with their gunfire. The driver of the second car, prisoner Sílvio Martins Alves ("Goiano"), told the press that the wheels of his car were extremely misaligned and his brakes were maladjusted; upon reaching one of the police road blocks, Goiano crashed the car into a post on the side of the road.254 Barroso, who was being held hostage in the fourth car, told Human Rights Watch that shortly after the initiation of the pursuit, her car suddenly began to billow smoke and ceased to operate.255

Several of the surviving prisoners and two of the hostages maintain that throughout the chase-and even after the second, third, and fourth cars had been effectively disabled-the police fired repeatedly at the vehicles. Alves, Barroso, and surviving escapees told Human Rights Watch that although prisoners exited the cars with their hands in the air yelling that they surrendered, hooded police fired repeatedly at the immobilized vehicles.

A surviving prisoner from the second car told Human Rights Watch that after his vehicle crashed, a hooded police officer approached him, shot him in the back, and, were it not for the intervention of military police Captain Marques, would have executed him. The prisoner told us that Captain Marques insisted on returning the prisoner to the IPPS for the others to see "how brave he was," handcuffed him, and then kicked and punched him repeatedly in the back and head. The prisoner asserted that after the beating he was taken back to the IPPS, where police tied a towel around his head and kicked him in the stomach until he began to spit blood and fainted.

Barroso and a surviving prisoner told Human Rights Watch that upon approaching their inoperable car, hooded police officers opened fire. According to both Barroso and the prisoner, the passengers shouted to the police that they had been hit and that there was a hostage in the car. Both witnesses told us the officers then approached the car and pulled inmate Antônio Calixto de Souza and two other prisoners from the vehicle and demanded that the detainees lie face down on the asphalt.0 Realizing that a fourth prisoner was still alive and hidden under the glove compartment in the passenger section of the car, police reportedly opened fire on the car once again, striking Barroso for a second time.1 The surviving prisoner told Human Rights Watch that the police then pulled him of the car, demanded that he lie face down next to the other prisoners, and kicked him repeatedly in the back and ribs.

Barroso and the surviving prisoner told Human Rights Watch, police investigators, and members of the press that after firing at their vehicle and forcing the prisoners to the ground, hooded police officers summarily executed at least two of the escapees. Barroso told us that she witnessed an officer go to one side of the car, kick the unarmed prisoners, and then shoot Calixto. After the officer fired three shots, he was stopped by a fellow officer, who shouted: "OK, OK. That's enough." The prisoner told us that while he was on the ground, he witnessed a hooded police officer shoot and kill other prisoners from a distance of approximately six to nine feet. According to him, an officer suggested that they kill the rest of the passengers, roll the car, and pretend that the car had crashed. The prisoner told us that this same officer then shot him in the neck. He maintains that he was able to survive only by feigning death until the arrival of the press moments later. Subsequent testimonies by Maria Nilva Alves and three other inmate eyewitnesses confirm the survivors' accounts of these executions.2 Becausepolice removed the vehicles from the scene shortly after the incident, it was not possible for ballistic experts to perform examinations, required by Brazilian law, to determine the angle and the distance from which the shots had been fired.3

In all, seven escaping prisoners-Daniel de Oliveira dos Santos ("Pirambu"), Francisco Ferreira de Moraes ("Pernambuco"), Assis, Robério Fátima da Silva ("Melão"), Antônio Calixto de Sousa, Maranhão, and Marcelo-were killed. Autopsies conducted by Dr. Eduardo Callado, coroner of the Forensic Medical Institute in Fortaleza, lend further support to the survivors' characterization of events. In a statement to the press on December 28, Dr. Callado affirmed that of the seven prisoners who were killed during the chase, only one did not suffer bullet wounds.4 According to Callado, the majority of the bodies had been struck by an average of four to five bullets. One prisoner had been shot a total of ten times. Dr. Callado told the press that although some of the bullet wounds were the result of shots fired from distances of up to approximately ninety feet, others were the result of shots fired from approximately three feet. In an interview with Human Rights Watch, Callado noted that many of the bullets had entered the prisoners' bodies through either the head or back.5 Given the multiple wounds suffered by the escapees, Dr. Callado told Human Rights Watch that he could not rule out the possibility that the escapees were summarily executed.

At the time of Human Rights Watch's meeting with authorities in Ceará twelve days after the operation, the police had questioned only seven people, none of them surviving prisoners. Further, they had failed to submit the weapons used during the chase to the police laboratory for expert analysis. Nicéforo Fernandes de Oliveira, the head of the State Prosecutor's Office (Procurador Geral da Justiça), declined to invoke his constitutional authority to conduct an independent investigation of the failed escape, instead delegating responsibility to the police themselves.

After a detailed investigation of the attempted escape, precinct commander Pedro de Sá Roriz Neto recommended that the responsible police officers beindicted for violating articles 129 (causing bodily harm) and 121 (homicide) of the Brazilian Criminal Code in shooting the prisoners and their hostages.6 Despite the conclusions of the official inquiry, prosecutor Francisco de Assis Oliveira Marinho, responsible for indicting police involved in the chase, has not, as of this writing, brought formal charges against any of the officers who participated in the operation.7

Minas Gerais

Inmates detained at the Investigations Precinct (Departamento de Investigações) in Belo Horizonte described routine physical abuse as punishment for escape attempts. One prisoner explained:

When there was an escape attempt here in October the civil police entered. Cell number seven was digging a tunnel. There were about thirty of us in the cell. The police took us out to the patio completely naked. There were about fifteen police with a water hose. They set up a gauntlet and we had to run through it. They hit us with sticks like baseball bats. All the police participated. We had to pass through it one by one.8

At the Nelson Hungria prison in Nova Contagem, numerous prisoners told Human Rights Watch about the violence of the "E team," a guard unit that works in the prison. A young prisoner described what happened after guards found marijuana in his cell during a search on December 30, 1997:

I was in the patio with the other prisoners when it happened. They took me to my cell and made me take off my clothes. There were three of them, Juscelino, who's the head of security,Milton, and another guy, and they started punching and kicking me. They also gave me the "telephone." My ears still hurt from that. Then they took me to the administration building to talk to the major. That was when my sister saw me, because she was there, trying to visit and trying to find out where I was. They wouldn't let me see my sister.9


A prisoner at the Campina Grande State Prison told Human Rights Watch that when he arrived at the prison in June 1995 with six other inmates, guards welcomed them with a beating. Ordering the inmates to remove their clothes, the guards reportedly asked them: "Do you want to know the rules here? The rules are that you get beaten." Then the guards kicked them and hit them with a dried bull's penis (other prisoners described this weapon, which seemed to be a local speciality). Another prisoner spoke of a later incident in which guards handcuffed some prisoners, who they thought had drugs, and then pulled out their toenails. Prisoners noted, however, that no inmate had been beaten since the arrival six months previously of a new prison warden, who had a different approach to maintaining discipline.

Similar improvement following a change of a warden was noted at the Maximum Security Penitentiary in João Pessoa. Human Rights Watch was told that the then-current warden, who had been in charge for nearly a year when we visited, "doesn't allow beatings. But two years ago, when I arrived here for the first time, you couldn't enter the place without getting beaten."10 A few exceptional instances of guard violence were described to us, however. Six months before our visit, on a Saturday when the warden was away, the guards discovered a knife in one cell. Placing handcuffs on all of the prisoners in that cell, the guards brought them to the administrative area of the prison.

It was early in the afternoon, and they had been drinking whisky. They poured drinks on our heads. They kept asking, "Whose knife is it?" They were really drunk. No one answered theirquestion, so they got angry and beat the crap out of us. They punched us and kicked us and hit us with a marrote [dried pig's penis]. They broke my thumbs . . . . A week later these guards were transferred.11

Another prisoner described how the subdirector broke his dental plate a week before our visit. It was after a search of prisoners' cells in which guards had torn up prisoners' sheets, poured out their toiletries, and left all of their personal belongings in piles on the floor. This prisoner complained when he returned to his cell and saw the mess. The subdirector turned around and inquired, "Who said that?" The prisoner indicated that he did, and the subdirector asked him, "You think you've got the right to say that?" When the prisoner responded affirmatively, the subdirector pretended to pull his gun out of his holster and shoot the prisoner, then punched him in the face, breaking his dentures and cutting his lip.

The apotheosis of the prison system's chronic violence was the killings that took place at Roger prison, João Pessoa, on July 29, 1997. The events began when a handful of prisoners attempted to escape. Armed with knives, the prisoners climbed out of the isolation cells where they had been held and seized four guards and three other prisoners as hostages. Putting on the guards' uniforms, the prisoners rushed out of the cellblock seeking to escape, but ran into the prison warden instead. Grabbing hold of the warden, they brought him back to the cellblock, tied him up, and placed him in a holding cell. Negotiations with the authorities ensued, lasting from about 5:30 p.m to 11:00 p.m. The prisoners demanded cars, guns, bullet-proof vests, and ammunition. Meanwhile, several units of military shock troops surrounded the prison.

It is unclear who ordered the troops to invade the prison at 11:00 p.m.; the two military commanders on hand both reportedly assert that they did not.12 Once the order was given, a "trusty" known as Ivan-one of a group of prisoners relied upon by the prison authorities-used a crowbar to break the chains binding the main gate, and a horde of police (prisoners estimated that there were some one hundred of them) rushed into the prison, throwing tear gas and shooting. At the same time, the military police exploded a bomb by the prison wall, causing a tremendous noise. The seven rebellious prisoners were in the holding cell with thewarden, but when the invasion began they released the warden and the other hostages, who ran out of the cellblock.

According to inmate eyewitnesses, the police invaded the cellblock together with a group of trusties-inmates who worked in the kitchen and who were despised by the remainder of the prison population. Ivan, who pried open the gate, was the acknowledged leader of these inmates.

The police entered shooting: one prisoner was hit twice in the chest, killing him; another was hit in the head; a third was hit in the neck and back; a fourth was shot at close range in the thigh, and a fifth in the back.13 Yet at least seven of the eight prisoners who died in the incident were not killed in the initial police attack but after the police had the situation under control. Instead of bringing the wounded and dying prisoners to the hospital, the police roughed some of them up a bit and exited the scene-yelling triumphantly that they had won a war-leaving the prisoners in the hands of their known enemies, the kitchen workers. Armed with the crowbar, Ivan led a brutal assault on the injured prisoners, finishing them off. The bodies all showed the marks of multiple weapons: knives, bullets, and blunt instruments. The coroner who later examined the bodies said they were the most violent deaths he had seen in seventeen years of practice. Another medical expert who examined the autopsy reports stated that "the ferocity of the injuries, the multiplicity of the blows, the choice of the [body] parts hit and the diversity of the arms and instruments used [shows] unquestionable evidence of cruelty, of an unnecessary and unjustifiable malice."14

All seven of the prisoners implicated in the hostage-taking were killed, as well as one prisoner in a neighboring cell (a holding cell known as reconhecimento).15 Four other prisoners in the neighboring cell were shot and wounded by the military police. When all of the would-be escapees were dead, the kitchen crew dragged the corpses out of the prison-pulling them by their feet-loaded them on a truck, and brought them to the hospital.

An investigation into the killings was ongoing when Human Rights Watch visited Paraíba in December 1997. In an interview with a João Pessoa prison prosecutor who was following the case, we were informed that the operation was deemed successful because the hostages were saved. In his view, criminal prosecutions were unlikely; as he stated bluntly, "No one convicts people who kill outlaws, here in Brazil."16

In late March 1998, however, a local prosecutor indicted nine members of the military police and four inmates, including Ivan, for the killings, charging the military police with homicide and the inmates with homicide and causing bodily harm.17 The indictment emphasized that all of the witnesses interviewed "spoke of the savage way in which the lives of the rioters were put to an end." It also noted that "after the slaughter, the police who participated in the operation celebrated the victory intensely, going so far as to shoot their weapons in the air."

Rio Grande do Norte

On February 5, 1998, more than thirty prisoners attempted to escape from the Dr. João Chaves Penitentiary in Natal, Rio Grande do Norte. In reacting to the escape attempt, police officers recaptured sixteen prisoners, injured at least ten, and killed seven. The seven prisoners killed were identified as Antônio Ferreira dos Santos (known as "Bonifácio"), Carlos Alberto Quirino Targino, Erinaldo Miranda Máximo ("Chocolate"), João Maria Vincente de Souza ("Bahia"), Jonierison Linhares do Ó ("Cigano" or "Cabeludo"), Francisco de Freitas da Silva ("Chita"), and Moisaniel Oliveira da Silva. Police officers maintain that the prisoners' deaths occurred during shoot-outs with police. Eyewitness testimony and expert analysis, however, reveal that police employed grossly excessive force in their pursuit of the escaping prisoners. In several deaths, as detailed below, the number of shots fired and the proximity from which the shots were fired suggest that the prisoners were summarily executed.

Recaptured prisoners told Human Rights Watch that on the evening of February 5, a group of roughly thirty prisoners set up two makeshift ladders at therear wall of the prison.18 In order to flee, the prisoners had to climb the wall that surrounds the prison, run the one hundred yards between the wall and a second barbed-wire fence, and crawl through holes in the fence to the outside street, where three cars and a motorcycle awaited them. According to press accounts, a prison guard discovered the fleeing detainees as they were scaling the first wall and quickly informed other guards of the attempted escape.19

The prisoners told Human Rights Watch that prison guards immediately opened fire on fleeing prisoners, wounding many of them as they climbed the wall or ran for safety in the one hundred-yard area between the wall and the fence. According to the prisoners, the first escapee that the police killed was Targino, shot while he was attempting to scale the rear wall. After being shot, Targino fell to his death inside the prison. The official autopsy report performed on Targino shows the entry of a single bullet in Targino's buttocks, which penetrated his torso and lodged inside his chest.20

All ten of the prisoners interviewed by Human Rights Watch reported that after forcing recaptured prisoners to lie face down on the ground, prison officials continued to shoot at those fleeing, firing over and around those who had already been effectively recaptured. Recaptured prisoners told Human Rights Watch that during and in the immediate aftermath of the flight, police shot at least eight fleeing detainees. Those recaptured also told us that the police ordered the recaptured prisoners to crawl toward nearby prison guards, who then kicked them and hit them repeatedly in the head and body with their rifle-butts.

According to press accounts, more than 200 police officials mounted a search in surrounding neighborhoods for the prisoners who had successfullyescaped from the penitentiary.21 Residents of the neighborhood adjacent to the prison's rear wall, who asked to remain unidentified, told Human Rights Watch that police fired repeatedly as they entered the neighborhood, causing residents to urge the police to stop shooting and to seek refuge in their homes for fear of being struck by police gunfire.22 One resident, who witnessed the police kill a fugitive detainee hiding on her premises, informed Human Rights Watch that the police fired dozens of rounds at the unarmed prisoner, who had lodged himself under a sink in her small backyard. The resident told Human Rights Watch that at the time of the interview, more than a week after the incident, she had not been asked by police to give an official account of the event.

One recaptured prisoner told Human Rights Watch that after apprehending him in a nearby neighborhood, police placed him in the trunk of a squad car and took him back to an empty room in the penitentiary, where various officers stripped him of his clothes, forced him to kiss their boots, and kicked him. This same prisoner told Human Rights Watch that another officer then came into the room, struck him repeatedly in the face, and boxed his ears with the palms of his hands.

Coroners' examinations of the corpses of prisoners killed during the pursuit reveal evidence of the unnecessary use of deadly force. In four of six cases, police officials shot fleeing prisoners from behind. The number of shots fired (an average of six gunshot wounds were found in each corpse, although one corpse had fourteen such wounds) and the concentration of gunshot wounds to the head and torso are consistent with an intent to kill, rather than to injure or stop, the fugitive prisoners. The fact that no police officers were injured during the pursuit, and that no weapons were found with the victims after they were killed, casts doubt on police descriptions of engaging in shoot-outs with escapees.

On February 8, 1998, three days after the escape attempt, civil police received a tip from local residents that escapee Moisaniel Oliveira da Silva was hiding in an abandoned house in the Ceará Mirim neighborhood of Natal. Press reports indicated that when police went to the abandoned home and attempted to seize da Silva, they engaged in a brief gun battle with him and wounded him duringthe exchange.23 After recovering da Silva from the abandoned home, police then took him to a local hospital, where he was pronounced dead on arrival and taken to the police coroners' office (ITEP).

Human Rights Watch obtained access to the official autopsy report that was performed on da Silva's body and met with the coroners responsible for the resport, Dr. Monteiro, Dr. Barbosa, and José Pinto, chief of ballistic examinations of the ITEP.24 The official autopsy reveals that da Silva was killed by a single bullet to his right temple that caused powder tattooing and produced two wounds-a small wound to his forehead and a hole in his skull measuring approximately 4.4 by 2.0 inches-upon exit. Dr. Pinto told us that this severe type of head injury could only have resulted from a shot that was fired at extremely close range from a high-caliber weapon. The official autopsy report and expert statements thus suggest the summary execution of da Silva by police officials, rather than a shoot-out.

On February 13, 1998, Gen. José Carlos Leite Filho, secretary of public security, told Human Rights Watch that four official investigations of the confrontation between the escaped prisoners and the police had been initiated.25 As of this writing, no formal charges have been brought against any officer who participated in the operation.

Rio Grande do Sul

A number of inmates at the Central Prison of Porto Alegre described a September 1997 incident involving a guard's cartridge belt. The belt disappeared-having been stolen by inmates-leading the military police to conduct a general search of the cellblocks. All of the prisoners from B and C blocks were brought down to the patio, then several truckloads of police, including many shock units in riot gear, ripped through the prison, breaking inmates' televisions and other personal items. Rioting broke out, and the police forced all of the inmates in C block, B-1 gallery, and B-2 gallery through a police gauntlet (known as a "Polish corridor"). Naked, in groups of ten, the prisoners were madeto run between two lines of police who hit them. After that, the inmates were left outside in the rain for two and a half days, without food, water, sanitary facilities, or visits.

Other inmates spoke of being beaten for lesser offenses. An HIV-positive prisoner who initiated a hunger strike because of the lack of medical care, for example, claimed that he was hit in the head by guards who objected to his protest.

São Paulo

In numerous São Paulo police lockups, Human Rights Watch learned of individual and group beatings in the aftermath of riots or escape attempts. In the course of these "punishment" sessions, special police squads typically required detainees to strip naked, then beat them with police batons, wooden sticks, and iron bars, often making them run a gauntlet through officers armed with such weapons.

In mid-November 1997, the day after an escape attempt at São Paulo's ninth police precinct, about ten special police shock troops entered the facility and beat inmates. They took all of the inmates out of cells three and four, had them take off all of their clothing and go into the patio in groups of five. There the inmates had to put their heads against the wall and were each hit three or four times with pieces of wood. Most inmates were hit on their buttocks, but a few were also hit in the ribs and a couple were hit in the testicles. The police also broke inmates' belongings, putting everything in a pile and dumping out inmates' containers of coffee and sugar on it. As one inmate recounted: "I lost everything in the raid: my pillow, my towel, letters from my girlfriend and my parents, razors, soap, a pair of jeans, several shirts, a new hat, and my foam mattress."26 Inmates from cell five were forced to bring out their television and throw it on the ground before the police.

Inmates at the Depatri police lockup, in Carandiru, told of how police frequently enter the lockup shooting; they pointed out bullet holes in the wall to Human Rights Watch researchers. Going cell by cell, the police generally force inmates to take off their clothes and leave their cells; then they sometimes beat the naked inmates and break things in their cells.

Five prisoners escaped from São Paulo's thirty-fifth police precinct the week before Human Rights Watch visited it; another was shot by a police officer during the attempt. About fifteen minutes after the incident, some forty police shock troops arrived. They entered the lockup shooting and hitting inmates. The inmates shouted that they wanted the press to enter, and the police reportedlyresponded by saying, "No press today, you're going to get pressed!" All of the prisoners had to remove their clothing and run a police gauntlet, even the oldest inmate there, a fifty-two-year-old interviewed by Human Rights Watch. "They said go slowly, because if you go fast you'll have to do it again," he explained.27 The police hit certain inmates with baseball bats, making them kneel on the ground. Some of the police officers brought buckets of feces and urine from a broken toilet in one of the cells and threw them on the kneeling prisoners. In the end, the police forced all of the inmates, most of whom were covered in cuts and bruises, into two of the five available cells: sixty people in each cell. The press was not allowed to visit until the following day.

A riot at the Pinheiros jail on September 30, 1997 resulted in a particularly egregious case of police brutality. The previous day, inmates and police had gotten into a dispute when inmates complained that their breakfast was late, and one officer responded by shooting at random into the lockup. The inmates collected the spent shell casings and bullets, showing them to the precinct commander to try to convince him to discipline the officer. When the officer showed up for work as usual on September 30, inmates, furious with the situation, decided to take him hostage and riot to demand better treatment. They wanted their children to be allowed to visit twice a month instead of once, and they wanted a full day of outdoor recreation instead of two hours outdoors each day. When the gate of the jail was opened, a group of about twenty inmates rushed out, seizing several hostages, including three male police officers, a female justice official, and a female nurse's assistant.

A young inmate was seized by the police during the initial moments of the revolt. They hit him in the back of the head with an iron bar, knocking him unconscious. He revived moments later in the entryway of the jail; a police officer was demanding that he disclose who was leading the riot and who among the inmates was armed. The inmate told us:

One cop was behind me, holding my arms. I fell, then another one hit me with the iron bar. He hit me four times in the head and neck, knocking me out again for a time. When I opened my mouth I spit out teeth. Then they started hitting me with a wooden bat in the shoulder and chest. Finally, they dragged me by the feet to the entrance, picked me up and threw me against the steel door. I slid down the door, halfway unconscious. While I was on the ground, an officer stuck a knife into my hand, right between my wrist and my thumb. I felt it but I didn't move. The officer told the others, "You can call the morgue; this guy's history."28

The inmate woke up later in a military police station. A doctor visited and stitched up his mouth and his hand. That evening, he was transferred to a high security isolation cell at the Dakar 4 facility, where he was held alone for thirty days. During this period, his family had no idea what had happened to him or where he was held. When Human Rights Watch interviewed him in November 1997, he was missing two teeth on one side of his mouth, and two other teeth were broken; the scar on his hand was still healing.

Official violence is also a serious problem in São Paulo's prisons, although, to their credit, since the 1992 Carandiru massacre prison officials have been careful to avoid the use of deadly force, relying more on negotiation to resolve tense situations. Notably, the New Year's 1998 riot at Sorocaba prison, in which fifteen guards and hundreds of family members were held hostage, was ended without serious bloodshed. But while killings have been avoided, beatings are frequent. Inmates at the Casa de Detenção, particularly those in the punishment areas, described numerous incidents of guard brutality.29 During Human Rights Watch's visit to the facility, we saw heavy pipes with wrist straps-just as inmates had described them-in more than one guard station around the prison.


Impunity for abuses against prisoners, even for large-scale massacres, is a chronic problem that encourages further abuses. Despite the high level of official violence against prisoners, Human Rights Watch discovered very few cases in which officials were criminally prosecuted for their actions, and even fewer in which convictions were obtained. In Porto Alegre, in 1993, a known singer detained for the attempted rape of a minor was sexually abused by other inmates who were encouraged by guards; these guards were prosecuted and reportedlysentenced to long terms of confinement.30 But such cases are extremely rare, just as it is rare for known singers to be held in prison.

In the past decade, there have been several high-profile incidents in which military or civilian police have killed large numbers of prisoners. None of these incidents, no matter how abhorrent, has resulted in more than the brief imprisonment of the perpetrators. The two most prominent among these cases-both of which continue to drag on-are described below. Because they generated substantial media coverage, strong domestic interest, and sustained international attention, their lack of effective resolution is especially indicative of the impunity that prevails for such abuses.

The first case occurred in the aftermath of an aborted escape attempt at the forty-second police precinct in Parque São Lucas, São Paulo, on February 2, 1989. To punish the fifty-one would-be escapees, a group of twenty-nine military police and two civilian police forced the prisoners to strip naked and run a gauntlet. After beating the men severely, the police forced them into a small, unventilated cell. A third civilian police officer (the precinct commander) arrived at the scene shortly afterwards but failed to order the men's release from the cell, despite their desperate cries and evidence that many were dying. After about an hour, eighteen of the prisoners had died of asphyxiation.

In the ordinary courts which try civilian policemen, one of the two officers on the scene was convicted and has no further appeal. This officer was not held in pretrial detention, however; he has fled justice and is unlikely to be located. The conviction of the second officer is being appealed. The police precinct chief was tried and acquitted, but according to the latest information Human Rights Watch has received, the acquittal was reversed on appeal and he should be retried this year.31

The case against the military police dragged on for almost eight years in the notoriously ineffective military courts, before being transferred to the ordinary courts pursuant to a 1996 law that shifted a limited class of homicide cases from the military into the civilian justice system. At present, twenty-seven military police face charges in the ordinary courts (two have died since the 1989 incident). These police continue on the force, although they are restricted to administrative duty pending the outcome of the prosecution.

Days after the massacre, Americas Watch (now the Americas division of Human Rights Watch) filed a petition with the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights, which the Center for Justice and International Law (CEJIL) subsequently joined. In 1997, at an extremely late stage in the commission's processing of the petition, Brazil requested that the commission intervene to help it reach a friendly settlement with the petitioners. On January 9, the governor of the state of São Paulo signed a decree authorizing indemnifications to family members of the victims in the amount of U.S. $27,000 per dependent. Also pursuant to the settlement negotiations, the Brazilian government has agreed to speed up the prosecutions of the civilian and military police, and to recognize, publicly, its international responsibility for the violation.

The other most notorious and important prison case is the Carandiru massacre. On October 2, 1992, after a riot at São Paulo's Casa de Detenção (located within the Carandiru prison complex), military police stormed the facility and killed 111 prisoners. The police made little if any effort to negotiate with the prisoners before entering. When the police shock troops invaded, after gaining control of the situation, they forced prisoners to strip naked and executed dozens of them, including many who were trying to hide under their beds. No police were injured by gunfire, undermining the official story that the police engaged in a "shootout." The police commander (Col. Ubiratan Guimarães), who continues to advance this version of events, was elected to the São Paulo State Legislative Assembly. As a state legislator, a position he held until early this year, he benefited from parliamentary immunity from prosecution, even for past crimes.

In early 1996, shortly before passage of the law which permitted the transfer to the ordinary justice system of the Parque São Lucas case, the military courts decided to cede jurisdiction over the Carandiru case. At present, the case against the 120 police officers, initially indicted in the military courts, is proceeding in the ordinary courts. No trial date has yet been scheduled.32

219 See generally Human Rights Watch/Americas, Police Brutality in Urban Brazil.

220 Standard Minimum Rules, art. 46(1).

221 The exact nature of the military police is difficult to specify. Prior to 1988, the military police were directly subordinate to the armed forces. In that year, they were placed under civilian control, being made subordinate to state governors. Certain remnants of their military status nonetheless remain, the most problematic of which is the existence of a separate system of military justice for adjudicating crimes allegedly committed by military police officials. The continued reliance on the military justice system, with its separate courts and different procedural norms, is a significant factor encouraging impunity for police abuses. (See further discussion below.)

222 Human Rights Watch interview, Flávio Hebron, assistant secretary, Natal, Rio Grande do Norte, December 13, 1997. Similarly, a 1988 report from the National Council of Criminal and Penitentiary Policy stated that civil police in Rio Grande do Norte staffed the prisons and that military police were charged with external security, while a 1995 Prison Ministry report stated that all prison duties "are performed by the military and civil police, without any order." Conselho Nacional de Política Criminal e Penitenciária, O Sistema Penitenciário da Região Nordeste, June 27, 1988, p. 72; Coordenação Nacional de Pastoral Carcerária, Relatório do Encontro Regional Nordeste de Pastoral Carcerária, June 5, 1995. We have been unable to confirm whether civilian guards have in fact been hired and trained since our visit.

223 See, for example, Human Rights Watch/Americas, Punishment Before Trial: Prison Conditions in Venezuela (New York: Human Rights Watch, 1997), pp. 22-23, 60-64 (describing the militarization of Venezuelan prisons and related problems).

224 Standard Minimum Rules, art 46(3) (stating that "personnel shall be appointed on a full-time basis as professional prison officers and have civil service status.")

225 Lei de Execução Penal, art. 77, sec. 1; see also Standard Minimum Rules, arts. 47 (2) & (3) (requiring that guards receive an initial training course "in their general and specific duties" and that they "maintain and improve their knowledge and professional capacity by attending courses of in-service training to be organized at suitable intervals").

226 Human Rights Watch interview, Lt. André Córdova, Charqueadas, Rio Grande do Sul, December 2, 1997.

227 Human Rights Watch interview, members of Minas Gerais prison guards union, Belo Horizonte, Minas Gerais, March 17, 1998; see also 1997 Minas Gerais CPI report, p. 66 (noting that "the [prison] system has important deficiencies" with regard to guard training).

228 Human Rights Watch interview, Octávio César Berthault, Casa de Detenção, São Paulo, November, 28, 1997.

229 Until a couple of years ago, guards in Amazonas state made only 180 to 280 reais per month (approximately US $160 to $250), but after the civil police were granted a raise in salary, the state government augmented guards' salaries as well.

230 Human Rights Watch interview, members of Minas Gerais prison guards union, Belo Horizonte, Minas Gerais, March 17, 1998.

231 Human Rights Watch interviews, Campina Grande, Paraíba, December 8, 1997.

232 Standard Minimum Rules, art. 46(3).

233 Lei de Execução Penal, arts. 53 and 45. The Standard Minimum Rules contain similar prohibitions. Standard Minimum Rules, art. 31.

234 Two such cells, labeled cela-batida, were found at the Campina Grande prison, in Paraíba. Although these were empty the day that Human Rights Watch visited, one prisoner told us that he was recently confined seventeen days in one of them, and prisoners in neighboring cells said that someone had been removed from it that very day, before our visit, after spending seven days there. Human Rights Watch interviews, Campina Grande, Paraíba, December 8, 1997.

235 It should be noted, however, that the national prison law specifically requires punishment cells to provide living conditions equal to those mandated for normal cells, in terms of space, ventilation, sanitary facilities, etc. Lei de Execução Penal, art. 53, sec. IV (referring to article 88 of the same law).

236 Human Rights Watch interview, Natal, Rio Grande do Norte, December 12, 1997.

237 Torture as a method of police interrogation, rather than for detention-related reasons, is discussed in the chapter on police lockups.

238 "Secretário pede desculpa a presos por agressão de PMs," A Crítica (Manaus), July 3, 1997.

239 A letter that prisoners released to the press during the riot began: "We want the dismissal of the warden and all of his administration. We want a civilian director and not a military one, so that we do not suffer under a military regime and torture from them." "Carta de presos denuncia espancamento," A Crítica, July 9, 1997.

240 "Para Secretário operação foi `excepcional,'" O Povo (Fortaleza), December 27, 1997 (translation by Human Rights Watch).

241 "Sangue no Natal: Nove mortos na fuga do IPPS," Diário do Nordeste (Fortaleza), December 26, 1997.

242 The Maria Nilva Foundation is a private, charitable organization that provides assistance to prisoners' families.

243 Capoeira is a traditional Afro-Brazilian dance and martial art form.

244 Barroso noted that although the prisoners wanted to kill one of the hostages in order to avenge the shooting of Dias Ferreira, she and one of the prisoners were able to convince the others of the tactical imprudence of taking a hostage's life. Human Rights Watch interview, Eunísia Barroso, Fortaleza, Ceará, January 4, 1998.

245 According to press accounts, the prisoners first demanded that they be relocated to prisons in the interior of Ceará, later that they be transferred to the Professor Olavo Oliveira Penal Institute (another prison in the state of Ceará), and finally that they be given cars, guns, and free access to leave the IPPS. "Negocições foram feitos através de aparelho celular," Diário do Nordeste, December 26, 1997.

246 Human Rights Watch interview, Eunísia Barroso, Fortaleza, Ceará, January 4, 1998. According to the hostages, the ill effects of the denial of food and water were exacerbated by the other difficult conditions of their captivity. Throughout the night, the hostages and prisoners were kept awake by prison guards who threw stones at the schoolroom and yelled repeatedly, "Someone is going to die tonight." As there was no bathroom in the area in which they were held, the hostages and the prisoners were compelled to use a corner of the schoolroom as a makeshift bathroom; when the women had to relieve themselves, the others would simply turn their heads.

247 Human Rights Watch interviews, Eder Gil Teixeira Pinheiro and Eunísia Barroso, Fortaleza, Ceará, January 4, 1998.

248 Human Rights Watch interview, Secretary of Justice Paulo Duarte, Fortaleza, Ceará, January 6, 1998.

249 "Término das negociações e início da tragédia," Diário do Nordeste, December 26, 1997 (translation by Human Rights Watch).

250 Human Rights Watch interview, Tramaturgo Barroso, Fortaleza, Ceará, January 3, 1998.

251 Rodolfo Spínola, "Motim em Fortaleza termina com 9 mortos," Estado de S. Paulo, December 26, 1997.

252 Military police officer Ernani Castro told the press that he was injured by gunfire during the operation. According to Castro's statement, a shot fired by the prisoners struck Castro's chest, protected by a bullet-proof vest, resulting in a bruised rib. "Tenente escapou por usar colete," Tribuna do Ceará (Fortaleza), December 26, 1998.

253 Human Rights Watch interview, Fortaleza, Ceará, January 5, 1998.

254 "Presos contam que acidente foi provocado," O Povo, December 27, 1997.

255 Responding to these allegations of police sabotage, Gen. Cândido Vargas de Freire, Secretary of Public Security and Civil Defense (Secretário de Segurança Pública e Defesa Civil), remarked that the crashes were not attributable to police misconduct but rather to "the lack of preparation of the detainees, who did not know how to drive." "Para Secretário operação foi `excepcional,'" O Povo, December 26, 1997.

0 Dedezinho told us that the other two prisoners were known as "Pernambucano" and "Dragão."

1 According to medical reports, Barroso was shot in the left hip and in the posterior thorax region of her neck. "Coordenadora da Pastoral Carcerária está fora de perigo," O Povo, December 26, 1997.

2 Human Rights Watch interviews, Maria Nilva Alves and surviving prisoners, Fortaleza, Ceará, January 1, 1998, and January 4, 1998. Barroso told the press that immediately after reporting the execution in an official declaration to police investigators, she received death threats at the hospital where she was recuperating. Maria Nilva Alves also reported that she has received death threats. In response to the threats, Governor Tasso Jereissati requested police protection for both of the women. "Tasso pede proteção da PF para Eunisia e Maria Nilva," O Povo, January 1, 1998.

3 Human Rights Watch interview, Ranvier Feitosa Aragão, Director of the Police Laboratory (Instituto de Criminalística), Fortaleza, Ceará, January 6, 1998.

4 "Legista não descarta hipótese de execução de detentos do IPPS," O Povo, December 28, 1997.

5 The seven individuals who were questioned by police were: the three hostages, one detainee, and three of the officers who participated in the operation. "Nicéforo nega omissão do Ministério Público," O Povo, January 9, 1998; Human Rights Watch interview, Dr. Eduardo Callado, Fortaleza, Ceará, January 1, 1998.

6 Technical Assistance Division, Secretariat of Public Security, Police Inquiry, report of February 20, 1998.

7 On March 20, 1998, prosecutor Oliveira Marinho returned the inquiry to the police, requesting that they conduct further investigation and tests, such as ballistic tests of the bullets found in the victims. Letter No. 87-PJ/98, from prosecutor Francisco de Assis Oliveira Marinho to Gen. Cândido Vargas Freire, state secretary of public security, Aquiraz, Ceará, March 20, 1998.

8 Human Rights Watch interview, Departamento de Investigações, Belo Horizonte, Minas Gerais, March 17, 1998.

9 Human Rights Watch interview, Penitenciária Nelson Hungria, Nova Contagem, Minas Gerais, March 18, 1998. The "telephone" refers to the infliction of a violent slap with cupped hands on both of the victims' ears at the same time.

10 Human Rights Watch interview, inmate, João Pessoa, Paraíba, December 10, 1997.

11 Human Rights Watch interview, inmate, João Pessoa, Paraíba, December 10, 1997.

12 Human Rights Watch interview, Nilo de Siquiera Costa Filho, Promotor da Vara de Execuções Penais da Comarca da Capital, João Pessoa, Paraíba, December 9, 1997.

13 An autopsy report on the deaths indicates that a sixth prisoner had three wounds in his left groin, each approximately one centimeter in diameter, "similar to those caused by the entry of a bullet." Genival Veloso, Relatório Médico-Legal, September 2, 1997 (translation by Human Rights Watch).

14 Ibid., sec. 4.5.

15 The dead prisoners were: Roberto Cabral de Oliveira, Jailson Santos de Castro, Josenilton Alves da Silva, Josivaldo Mendes da Silva, Ailton Lino da Rocha, Severino Alves dos Santos, Lindemberg da Silva Torres, and Sebastião Galdino da Silva.

16 Human Rights Watch interview, Nilo de Siquiera Costa Filho, João Pessoa, Paraíba, December 9, 1997.

17 Prosecutorial Indictment, First Jury Tribunal of João Pessoa, Paraíba, March 31, 1998 (translation by Human Rights Watch). Under Brazilian law, military police can only be tried for homicide in the ordinary courts; all lesser crimes must be tried in the military justice system.

18 Human Rights Watch interviews, recaptured prisoners, Natal, Rio Grande do Norte, February 12, 1998.

19 "Fuga em massa deixa seis mortes," Tribuna do Norte (Natal), February 6, 1998.

20 Dr. Abelardo Rangel Monteiro Filho, the coroner who performed the autopsy on Targino, and Dr. Guaraci da Costa Barbosa, Director of Forensic Medicine of the Police Technical and Scientific Institute (Instituto Técnico e Científico de Polícia, ITEP), told Human Rights Watch that the angle of entry and the continued trajectory of the bullet was consistent with either a shot fired from a point underneath and behind Targino or from a shot fired from above Targino while he was lying face down on the ground. Human Rights Watch interviews, Drs. Filho and Barbosa, Natal, Rio Grande do Norte, February 13, 1998.

21 "Fugitivos tentaram abrir rota da fuga à bala," Tribuna do Norte, February 6, 1998.

22 Human Rights Watch interviews, area residents, Natal, Rio Grande do Norte, February 12, 1998.

23 "Fugitivo do presídio é morto em Ceará-Mirim," Diário de Natal, February 10, 1998.

24 Human Rights Watch interviews, Drs. Monteiro, Barbosa, and Pinto, Natal, Rio Grande do Norte, February 13, 1998.

25 Human Rights Watch interview, General José Carlos Leite Filho, Natal, Rio Grande do Norte, February 13, 1998. Presumably, these include a civil police investigation and a military police investigation.

26 Human Rights Watch interview, ninth police precinct, São Paulo, November 24, 1997.

27 Human Rights Watch interview, thirty-fifth police precinct, São Paulo, November 18, 1997.

28 Human Rights Watch interview, São Paulo, November 26, 1997.

29 For a report of beatings and other abuses in the punishment area of pavilion four of the Casa de Detenção-an area known as the "dungeon" (masmorra)-see Pastoral Carcerária da Arquidiocese de São Paulo, "Relação de incidentes comunicados à Pastoral Carcerária da Arquidiocese de São Paulo, referentes às celas conhecidas como `Masmorra' do Pavilhão 4, da Casa de Detenção de São Paulo," 23 dezembro 1997.

30 Human Rights Watch interview, Judge Marco Antônio Scapini, Porto Alegre, Rio Grande do Sul, December 4, 1997.

31 Under Brazilian law, acquittals, like convictions, can be reversed on appeal, necessitating the retrial of a case.

32 In February 1994, Human Rights Watch and CEJIL filed a second petition against Brazil for the Carandiru massacre. (The first, filed in October 1992, just a few weeks after the killings, was dismissed based on a failure to exhaust domestic remedies.) In large part because the current São Paulo prison authorities have promised to destroy the Casa de Detençao and build several smaller facilities, and because the case has been transferred out of the military justice system, the Inter-American Commission has informally halted proceedings against Brazil in this case.

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